Friday, February 17, 2006

Q: Is Wagner fair to librarians? A: no

Laser Eye Surgery
Lasik Danbury

You’ll recall that, at the last board meeting, Trustee Wagner led the board in ending the colleges’ memberships in the American Library Association (ALA), the foremost organization of librarians in the U.S.

According to Wagner, the ALA is a bunch of “liberal busybodies.”

Listen to his motion:
this is an audio post - click to play

Listen to the subsequent discussion: Milchiker, Lang, Wagner, Fuentes:
this is an audio post - click to play

Wagner emphasized the ALA’s opposition to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which requires of public libraries that “filters” be installed on (public use) library computers—in order to protect children from internet porn. (I do think Mr. Wagner's remarks imply that he favors CIPA. I could be mistaken.)

Unsurprisingly, the ALA has long been a foe of censorship—we all remember reading about book burnings and lists of condemned books. The ALA has always been on Team Freedom re that battle. And so, with perfect consistency, ALA has from the beginning viewed CIPA as onerous.

I went to the ALA website and could not find the "ALA" remarks that Mr. Wagner quotes. But I did find the following address given by John W. Berry back in 1999. At the time, Berry was ALA’s President-elect.

Here, Berry presents what seems to be the essence of ALA’s position on CIPA and internet filters (if my perusal of the ALA website is any guide).

John W. Berry
President-elect, American Library Association, 2000–2001

On ALA vs. United States

Challenge to the Children’s Internet Protection Act

ood morning. I am John W. Berry, President-elect of the American Library Association and I’ll moderate this morning’s press conference.…

On Christmas day, 1820, a 77-year old Thomas Jefferson wrote these words from Monticello to his friend Thomas Ritchie: “But I am far from presuming to direct the reading of my fellow citizens, who are good enough judges themselves of what is worthy of their reading.”

It is appropriate that we assemble here in Philadelphia, the Founders city, to reaffirm our support for the constitutional rights of all Americans to “be good enough judges themselves of what is worthy of their reading” or of their religious practice, or of their speaking.

This morning, the American Library Association with the Freedom to Read Foundation and nine other plaintiffs, filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania challenging the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) signed into law on December 21st of last year.

Former President Clinton, upon signing the funding bill that included CIPA as a “rider,” expressed his disappointment with the legislation: “I believe that local development of an Internet-acceptable use plan is a more effective solution than mandatory filtering for ensuring comprehensive protection while meeting the diverse needs of local schools and libraries.”

Let us be clear about several things:

• This act imposes unprecedented, sweeping Federal speech restrictions on public libraries across the nation.

• Filters are contrary to the mission of the public library, which is to provide access to the broadest range of information for a community of diverse individuals. Filters block access to critical, constitutionally protected speech related to many subject areas. Filters have been shown to block access to medical information, political information and information related to the arts and literature.

• Librarians care deeply about children. Libraries already have policies and programs to ensure children have an enriching and safe online experience. More than 95 percent of public libraries have Internet-use policies that were created with community input and local control, and they offer classes on how to use the Internet to get good information.

In our libraries, we find kids use the Internet the same way they use other library services. They work on homework assignments, read about sports, music and other interests, and communicate with their friends. The vast majority of children and adults continue to use the library responsibly and appropriately.

The American Library Association believes strongly that the Children’s Internet Protection Act is unconstitutional. The filtering mandate imposed by Congress is unworkable in the context of a public institution because it restricts access to constitutionally protected speech on the users served by libraries. No filtering or blocking technology exists that blocks access only to speech that is obscene, child pornography or harmful to minors. And no filtering technology protects children from all objectionable materials. Many of you will have seen the March issue of Consumer Reports evaluating several filtering software products; the best of the products failed to block one objectionable site in five.

We’re concerned that filters give parents a false sense of security that their children are protected when they are not. Not all problems brought on by transformative technological innovation, like the Internet, have technological solutions, at least in the short term. We believe that education is more effective than filters—kids need to make good decisions about what they read and view, no matter where they are. To be sure, this is a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, librarians and many others.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act is a misnomer. The legislation does not strictly limit access for minors, but for adults and all Internet users in a library.

And finally, the act allows for unblocking specific Web sites if a user can demonstrate a “bona fide research or other lawful purpose”—both of which are left undefined. We do not believe that library staff should be put in the position of deciding what is “legitimate” or “objectionable” on a case-by-case basis.

CIPA is, in short, unworkable and fundamentally misguided.

[Link: Berry's address]

n his remarks about ALA last month, Mr. Wagner implied that the ALA does not care about children’s access to pornography on the internet--that the organization even favors children's access to anything and everything there. Clearly, that is not true. The ALA does view children’s access to porn as a problem, but it rejects CIPA’s means of protecting children as both ineffectual and offensive to a community that values freedom.

As you know, conservatives on our board have long been champions of “local control” re community colleges. When, several years ago, the authors of the Citizens’ Commission on Higher Education cited our district to illustrate how “local control” of California community colleges goes wrong (see note 1 below), the usual suspects on the board squawked the usual Reaganesque squawk about the importance of local oversight. Such squawkage can still be heard at SOCCCD board meetings.

But when it comes to libraries, which are staffed by persons who warm to ALA’s “liberal” take on speech and info (namely, that speech should be free, that censorship is bad), suddenly, our conservative board members are against local control. Suddenly, they want the feds to restrict and to control the locals.

Perhaps they do not support CIPA. Perhaps they are for local control here, too. Mr. Wagner did start his discussion by referring to the liberal or leftist partisanship of the ALA.

Still, one issue here concerns the ALA’s stance regarding CIPA and children. Is it what Mr. Wagner says it is? I can find no evidence to support that view.

I recommend visiting the following site: ALA on CIPA. (Click)

Mr. Wagner seemed also to be offended by the ALA’s (i.e., these “busybodies”’) objections to the Patriot Act. To learn about ALA’s stance on that legislation, go to ALA on Patriot Act.



From a December '99 issue of Dissent:

In early April (‘99), the California Citizens Commission on Higher Education issued a report recommending the elimination of locally elected community college boards. According to the Register, "Too often, the commission argues, college boards micromanage their campuses, undermining trained administrators and creating disharmony. Commissioners cited the three years of turmoil at South Orange County Community College District as an example of what could go wrong with locally elected trustees...." (4/6/99)


In an article entitled “Defining Control” (Register, 6/16/98), Don Wagner offers his view on “local control” of schools and the dangers of “the federal government…overreaching its powers.”



Link to interesting site re banning, censoring books:
Bonfire of the Liberties
(click on "censored books")

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Hammering out differences, part III:

Laser Eye Surgery
Lasik Danbury


Among participants in the "Technical Assistance" session on Monday were classified leaders. Here are some of their comments/suggestions:

this is an audio post - click to play

1. Connie Z
2. Mary W
3. Susan S


Here are some of Trustee Padberg and Trustee Milchiker's suggestions:

this is an audio post - click to play

1. Trustee Padberg ~ "Rumour Hot Line"
2. Trustee Milchiker ~ Trustee Visitations

Gaucho & Laser ridiculosity

ecently, a student friend of mine encountered a Latino instructor who expressed annoyance that the Lariat has evidently decided to use an angry Mexican bandit to represent the "Gaucho," Saddleback College's mascot.

The problem: Gauchos are not angry bandits, they are dignified cowboys. Further, Gauchos are not known for wearing Mexican sombreros (not that there's anything wrong with Mexican sombreros!). Gauchos are Argentinian cowboys that have an identity--and a hat--all their own. (See above poster.)

Plus there's a good reason that Frito Lay abandoned its "Frito Bandito" character--a character so like the angry Sombrero-wearing bandit. It's an offensive stereotype.

Well, the student decided to visit the Lariat to explain all of this. Like the instructor, he assumed that the unfortunate "Gaucho" image was the work of the Lariat, not the college. "Surely a college would know enough not to use a bandit to represent a Gaucho!", thought he.

So he marched down to the Lariat office and made his points. The Lariat staffers listened patiently. They then walked El Correcto to the gymnasium and pointed at a wall.

There, writ large, was the college's official "Gaucho" image. It was the same angry Sombrero-wearing bandit! D'oh!

OK, so Saddleback College has adopted the "Gaucho" as their mascot, and, evidently, (a) Saddleback College doesn't know what a Gaucho is and (b) Saddleback College is using a "Gaucho" image that is not a Gaucho. Rather, it is using an image not unlike the infamously incorrectly stereotypical "Frito Bandito."

Well, OK.

But if you're gonna have an angry Mexican bandit (or nonbandit) as your mascot, then you really oughta call yourselves the angry Mexican bandits or the angry Mexicans.

his whole Gaucho thing is ridiculous. The only thing more ridiculous is IVC's "Laser."

Why is that ridiculous?, you ask. Well:

* We decided to call ourselves the "Lasers" cuz we had one. That is, we got one of those gadgets and we built a program around it.

* Of all the programs on campus, exactly two seem to be going down in flames: (1) Ray's student-free engineering program (check out his enrollments), and--you guessed it!-- (2) the laser program.

That means that we're gonna be the Lasers even though we don't have one. Or we've got one, but there's nobody around who knows how to turn the damn thing off.

* Entirely independently of that problem (I don't think that problem is recognized as a problem), some at IVC have been considering changing our mascot and even our name.

"The ocean," say some, "is attractive. We need to stick 'Pacific' in our name!"

So get ready for "Irvine Pacific College" and its formidable Moondoggies.

* I'm told that, when the "mascot" issue first came up at IVC, then-President Ed Hart was determined to choose, as IVC's mascot, a critter like the Wolverine. "Wolverines"? said everybody. "Yeah, goddam Wolverines!" said Ed. He was like that.

Well, I asked IVC's surviving geezers--there's like three or four of 'em, and you have to catch them between naps--and some of 'em say it was the Wolverines, and some of 'em say it was the Wildcats.

There's a great "Wildcat" story. Once the "Wildcat" mascot idea was put out there, the campus was immediately divided about it. So one of the opponents of Wildcattery found a photograph of a cat engaging in, um, personal lickage. This lurid photo was circulated around campus.

Upon it was written, "Nobody licks the Wildcats!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Hammering out differences, part II

A continuation of our coverage of the Feb. 13 "technical assistance" meeting--an effort to arrive at agreement re roles and responsibilities of constituent groups, etc., in response to Accred recommendations. See previous blog.

Chancellor Mathur's suggestions

Mathur's suggestions are his usual blend of inanity, New Agery, and jaw-dropping hypocrisy. One absolutely should NOT listen to these remarks unless one is prepared to hear such suggestions as that people should "be nice." Or: people shouldn't be so dang concerned about "law." Plus: no "personal attacks" (i.e., stop describing me so damn accurately).

this is an audio post - click to play

Senate Prez Wendy:

Pretty hard-hitting. I love the stuff about the appellate court's advice.
this is an audio post - click to play

Senate Prez Claire:

Claire offers further suggestions. It's great to see the two academic senates working so closely together!

this is an audio post - click to play

Union Prez Lewis:

Lewis is pretty soft-spoken, and so my camera's mike didn't pick up his voice very well. Luckily, I have his remarks in handout form (click on the image to make it larger):

...More coming tomorrow...

Hammering out differences

don't it make you smile?
don't it make me smile?
when the sun don't shine, it don't shine at all
don't it make me smile?
i miss you already... i miss you always
i miss you already... i miss you all day
this is how i feel...
i miss you already... i miss you always

--Pearl Jam's "Smile"

s you know, our colleges recently received a dismal report from the accrediting agency (ACCJC/WASC). The accreditors were mostly critical of our defiant board, its practices (especially re executive hiring), and its persistent "micromanagement." These elements plus the Board's support of Chancellor Raghu Mathur, despite his sub-Bush popularity among faculty, et al., have resulted in a palpable "plague of despair." Or so opined the two accrediting teams.

With this last action--the granting of skin-of-teeth accreditation conjoined with numerous requirements--the accreditors are turning up the heat. If, next October, the accreditors judge that our board is still micromanaging and is still embracing questionable hiring practices, very serious actions will result.

Remember Compton Community College!

In response to the new thermal environment, the Chancellor has become a fan of "technical assistance," a process whereby, with the assistance of outside agents, an attempt is made, among clashing parties, to work out differences and to come to agreement.

In the past, the academic senates have called for TA only to be spurned by the imperious Chancellor. It is remarkable how quickly he has come around to the faculty's way of thinking, now that the accreds are breathing down his neck.

The chief Clashoids are the Board/Chancellor and the Academic Senates (the faculty), though those two groups are not the only concerned parties.

In the view of faculty--and the Accreds--the Board and Chancellor have consistently ignored faculty input. They have done so even to the extent of violating the law--or so judged the courts in the specific case of the development of faculty hiring policies.

The Chancellor's sudden enthusiasm for TA resulted in last night's meeting (Feb. 13) in which representatives of all constituency groups (classified, faculty, students, mold spores) sat around a large table and attempted to arrive at agreement concerning what should now be done in response to the accrediting agency's recommendations.

Time's a wastin'! If we don't get on the stick, we'll never make the kind of progress that the Accreds require.

WALTON AND WOODRUFF. The designated outside parties were the agreeable team of Ian Walton of the State Academic Senate and Dianne Woodruff of the Community College League of California (the former represented faculty; the latter represented the district).

Walton and Woodruff outlined their proposed agenda. All parties were essentially agreeable, ceptin' for Trustee Fuentes, who seemed determined to redefine the meeting, not as an attempt to arrive at agreement, but as an opportunity for the trustees to "listen."

He even bristled at Walton/Woodruff's suggestion that participants should restrict their behavior as a gesture of respect for others (e.g., refraining for leaving until the end of the meeting).

"Who," he seemed to be asking, "are these pinheads to tell us what to do? Why, the temerity!"

One might guess that, in Fuentes' mind, the elected board is a body so exalted that it should decide, well, everything. It is difficult understanding that sort of thinking.

According to Walton and Woodruff's proposed plan, the first half of the meeting would comprise the "presentation of solutions." That is, each participant (most groups were represented by more than one person) was given five minutes to present three "constructive suggestions" for addressing the accreditation recommendations.

That opened the floodgates of blathery. Since most participants came with more than three suggestions--and some dreamt up new ones while drivin' over--the number of "solutions" mounted quickly. In the end, there may have been 100 or so. Or maybe it was a thousand. It seemed that we were in a thicket of motley suggestery.

(Not just motley. Some of the suggestery was flat ridiculous: "respect others." "Hand your enemies a cold salmon." I think Raghu found his set of 10 inanities in Orlando, Florida, at the Disney World Hilton. More on that later.)

I can't provide even a fraction of the many suggestions (as audio files) that were presented last night, and so I've chosen to select only a few.


The following audio file presents Trustee John Williams' "constructive suggestions." (About three minutes.) Here, he seems to accept all of the Accred's harsh remarks re the board.

The downside? Williams' solutiion is handing everything over to Raghu.

this is an audio post - click to play

Some thoughts:
* The purported link between the bankruptcy and the board's micromanagement seems to be a new wrinkle. Isn't Williams singin' a new tune here? Since the 1998 Accred action cited micromanagement, one would think that this "the bankruptcy made us do it" guff would have come up then. Did it? Don't think so.
* When the district was placed on the State chancellor's fiscal "watch" list, I don't recall this blather about the bankruptcy. On the contrary, I recall a defiant board who insisted that nothing was amiss. Am I wrong?
* Williams was supposed to provide three constructive suggestions. So just what is his suggestion? "Let's stop micromanaging" is a good idea, but we need to know what that really means.

"GUIDED BY LOVE" (about 2 minutes)

Here is an audio file of Trustee Tom Fuentes' "constructive suggestions." It is notable for the remarkable contrast between Mr. Fuentes the person and the dreamy things that emerge from the Fuentean mouth. I do believed the fellow twinkled. Right into the camera. I think he was givin' me the whammy.

Also: just what is Fuentes' constructive "suggestion"? "Be guided by love," I guess. Or maybe: don't forget "Valentine's Day." I wonder how long it took him to arrive at these "solutions"?

this is an audio post - click to play

(Get a load of this!)

Here are excerpts from pages 9 to 15 of the Accred report for Saddleback College (which has nice things to say about the college, by the way--the problem is the BOT/Mathur):

Recommendation 4: The Board of Trustees [BOT] review and revise the "Employment Procedures for Executive Positions" so that it conforms to accepted best practices. Specifically, this process should be fair, equitable, and provide for meaningful constituency input....

...The team is concerned that for the second time, The Board of Trustees of the SOCCCD has formally ignored a recommendation that was cited by the last two accreditation evaluation visiting teams. The Board failed to have any substantive discussion on this item and they failed to review and revise the "Employment Procedures for Executive Positions" to conform to best practices as was specified in the prior recommendations of the visiting teams. It is not clear why the BOT has failed to act in a formal manner in regard to this recommendation and why they have failed to even have a public discussion of this issue at a BOT meeting....

Recommendation 5: The BOT cease their involvement in college and district operations and delegate all non-policy issues....

...Viewing a videotape of a SOCCCD board meeting or reading a transcript of one of these meetings clearly stands as proof that this board continues to engage in business that is not at the level at which a board should be engaged. Debating the merits of particular floor types, whether a speaker should be allowed on a campus, or whether or not a field trip is appropriate...demonstrate that this board has not ceased its involvement in college and district operations....

...[T]here is no written or othe substantive evidence that the board took any action in regard to their own behavaior or to comply with the spirit of the letter of the recommendation made by the 1998 visiting team and reaffirmed by the 2004 visiting team.

...[O]ne board member indicated that he had never seen any evidence of micromanagement. It is not clear to what extent this sentiment is shared by other board members but several of them seemed to be sympathetic to this point of view. As a result, it is hard to sort out in such a short meeting if SOCCCD Trustees do not understand what behaviors constitute micromanagement, if they are in denial about their own micromanagement, if some of them rationalize their own micromanagement as being appropriate in certain circumstances, if it is a habit that is difficult to stop, or if some of the trustees fundamentally believe that no outside agency has the right to regulate their behavior. [Bingo.] [I]t is clear that the SOCCCD board has not ceased its involvement in college and district operations....

More about the Feb. 13 meeting coming soon. I've only scratched the surface. --CW

The Technical Assistance shindig

Went to the "Technical Assistance" shindig yesterday/last night. Tables were configured in a big square (with one end open) and the various constituency groups were seated around it. There was a weird little audience zone facing into the open part of the square. Woodruff of the CCLC and Walton of the state senate used a podium which poked into one corner of the square. From 3:00 to maybe 4:45 Woodruff and Walton held forth with big picture concepts about shared governance--although they pointed out that "shared governance" is not a legal phrase and its somewhat misleading. Well, CCLC's Woodruff made that point, cuz she represents trustees, and she's a subtle enemy of the concept, near as I can figure. (Nice lady though.)

Man, that Walton has one exotic accent. I think he's a Scot, cuz I overheard a brief discussion he had with Fuentes, who asked if he was Irish, I think. "Nope," said Walton. A Scot. Or maybe a Druid. My hearing isn't too good.

Woodruff was the slicker of the two, but both did a good job, I suppose, spelling out the nature of "governance" in the community colleges. No surprises, although Woodruff seemed to cherry pick to emphasize that the Board is the ultimate decision maker and entities such as the academic senate are mere "advisory bodies." Walton--and especially faculty who engaged in a brief Q &A--made clear that, in fact, the academic senate (and other bodies) are more than mere advisory bodies. Consider faculty hiring procedures, etc. In that area, faculty are equal partners, though no one dared say quite that.

After the brief Q&A, there was a break; then, at 5:15, the more interesting half of the presentation commenced. The various groups got up to offer their "three suggestions." Well, almost nobody stuck to three, and so, by the end of all this yammering, there were maybe 100 "ideas." It looked pretty hopeless, given all the suggestions and their genral goofiness. "Respect others." "Emphasize the postiive." "Just say 'no.'"

I've gotta go, but I'll just mention that Trustee Fuentes was the standout trustee, if standout means "obnoxious." That was mostly because Trustee Wagner had to go, starting about 6:00. He took his new beard with him.

Classified and especially faculty reps did a great job contributing to discussion. Very impressive. Hooray for the A-team.

Much more later. (I'm hoping to fashion some interesting audio clips.)


8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary